Book Review: The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood, by David Montgomery

(system) #1
Claiming to represent age-old attitudes towards the Bible and the flood, the flood geology of modern creationism in fact adopts some of the now-discredited geological theories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(David Schwartz) #2

Regarding the general topic of evolution, and particularly geology since it seems to be the point at which Christians (i.e. Hodge, Warfield…) claimed an old earth and conservative orthodoxy in the 19th century, I find myself wondering what type of response early promoters of the evolutionary model like Lamarck and Wallace received from orthodox believers. Was it that Darwin left no place for a Creator that made him so repulsive to Christians (though some like Asa Grey didn’t reject Darwins evolutionary mechanisms)?


> As Montgomery ably demonstrates, young earth creationism is one of the most recently-evolved branches of Christianity. Claiming to represent age-old attitudes towards the Bible and the flood, the flood geology of modern creationism in fact adopts some of the now-discredited geological theories of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, relying heavily on Noah’s flood as the main explanation for the reason the earth looks as it does today, including the entire sedimentary record and its fossils – all laid down in a matter of months by the flood waters.

According to Montgomery, young-earth creationism – as one of the youngest forms of Christianity – exploited the crucial lack of consensus in mainstream geology in the 1950s and 60s. Hence, the success of creationist flood geology (currently claiming nearly 50% of the American population, as well as countless others elsewhere in the world) was due, believes Montgomery, to the fact that mainstream geology was still struggling with a number of outstanding but very basic problems, such as the shapes of the continents, or the mechanisms behind mountain formation.

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First, Montgomery seems to evidence either his ignorance of christianity, or his ignorance of young earth creationism, or both. YEC is not a branch of christianity, but a branch of science, which permeates many different denominations, and has existed in the main long before the present day, including the time of Christ and many years afterward. In fact, one of the main objections to six day creation was not that it was so short, but that it was too long, and creation should have entirely taken place within an instant, from beginning to end.

What this does of course, is make suspect from the beginning, Montgomery’s treatment of geology, since it imputes excuses etc. for a different explanation of the geology, rather than concentrating on the actual geological evidence, layers, fossils, etc., and the objections to it. It assumes an all-or-nothing approach, which takes it into a faith level of understanding evolution and geology, rather than an impartial discovery. Methinks he doth protest too much.

(George Brooks) #4

Yes … along with spitting into mud to cure blindness… and making hammers or axes float.



So what are you saying then? That the mud removed a cataract? or the ax was made of lava rock? or that it was a miracle? or that it did not happen?

The real science in those cases was the observation that it happened, but we don’t know why it happened. Except that God made it happen. That is a scientific conclusion also. But the science is in seeing the blind man see when he could not before. In seeing Jesus spit on the mud and apply it to the blind man. The science is in seeing the ax which was in the water, begin to float on the water. You may consider this an incomplete science, but science is primarily observation, and only secondarily theoretical or general conclusions. Science would conclude these are miracles because they go against commonly understood principles, or against normal observations, or because the whole thing is not understood. They remain miracles for us.

Yec is attempting to put a naturalistic spin on a six day creation and on the impacts of the flood. And it attempts to find naturalistic objections to evolutionary treatment of the data. In that sense it is more an approach to science than a branch of christianity. There is no denomination called the evolution denying church of christ, or the young earth christian fellowship church. It crosses denominational lines, and tends to stay out of denominational differences.

(system) #6

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